Moussaoui's legal team is activated

Fed up with abuse, judge ends self-representation

November 15, 2003|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON - Saying yesterday that she has had enough, the judge in the Zacarias Moussaoui terror trial barred the alleged "20th hijacker" from representing himself in court because he continues to file "frivolous, scandalous, disrespectful or repetitive pleadings."

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema ordered Moussaoui's standby attorneys to become his official legal team after a key appeals court ruling on whether Sept. 11 evidence can be used against him and whether he can be put to death if convicted.

Brinkema's order follows her stern warning to Moussaoui on Nov. 5 that he was not to file any more legal papers in which he personally attacks prosecutors, the Bush administration, the courts and his own lawyers.

In dozens of these handwritten pleadings, he has lashed out at the United States with vitriolic, sometimes obscene, language - at times threatening to harm public officials.

The judge said Moussaoui recently sent her two more similar messages, and that was all she cared to read from him. Moussaoui, she said, "has forfeited his right to represent himself any further in this case."

Frank W. Dunham Jr., the federal public defender in Alexandria, Va., where the case will be tried, will become Moussaoui's lead defense attorney.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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